Tom McGuire left the head boys’ basketball coaching position at his alma mater Queen of Peace last spring after four years, knowing full well that his coaching career was far from over.
“I was just looking for a new opportunity,” McGuire said.
McGuire admitted it was going to be difficult to leave Queen of Peace, considering he spent most of his life affiliated with the school. In fact, he still teaches criminal justice and history at the school.
“Everyone at Queen of Peace has been good to me,” McGuire said. “But with what I’m trying to do professionally, it just made sense that I went elsewhere.”
So where did McGuire head? Try just a little further north toward Rt. 3. Try one of QP’s main rivals, namely Lyndhurst.
Lyndhurst was in need of a new boys’ hoops coach, after Paul Palek resigned to take care of family matters.
“I’m familiar at Lyndhurst,” McGuire said. “There’s a great athletic director here (Jeff Radigan) who I coached against. He’s someone I can bounce ideas off of and that’s a good thing. The structure here is something I really enjoy. I think these kids saw me coach last year and they know what I expect of them, what kind of team I’d like to have. I was looking for a good opportunity and I’ve found one here in Lyndhurst.”
McGuire is not inheriting a world beater. The Golden Bears won all of four games last year in what became a very trying season.
But McGuire recognized something right away in the initial workouts.
“The kids are hungry,” McGuire said. “They’re working their tails off from Day One. They want to win. They’re definitely eager to win. They’re eager and hungry.”
That generally happens when you suffer through a 4-19 campaign.
“It’s hard coming off four wins,” McGuire said. “They have to get rid of the mentality they had winning four games. I don’t know what to expect from them. They need to find some consistency. Once they get used to me and what I expect of them, I think they’re going to jell and be successful.”
McGuire said that he’s seeing signs already.
“There’s a lot of talent there,” McGuire said. “I can see the differences every day. From the first practice to the first scrimmage to the second, they are raring to go. If we are able to put kids in the right places and get them the right minds, they’re going to be successful.”
Leading the way is 6-foot-3 senior forward Justin Smith.
Smith averaged around six points per game last year, but McGuire is confident that Smith can become a bigtime scorer and rebounder for the Golden Bears this season.
“He’s been great so far,” McGuire said. “He’s taken the role of being the team leader and run with it. He’s been in charge of workouts and the others listen. He has decent post moves, but we’ve been doing a lot of work with him on his work near the basket. I think he can become a 12-to-14 pointper- game scorer. He just has to stay out of foul trouble. He also needs to get a lot of rebounds. I think he’s going to have a big year.”
Senior Vinnie Dorio is another key contributor. The 5-foot-10 Dorio is an energetic floor leader.
“He can play either guard position, but we’re going to start him off at point guard,” McGuire said. “He’s very strong with the ball and is confident with the ball. He makes good decisions and can see the floor well. He’s a leader on the court. I like the way he plays.”
Senior Nic DiTommaso is a 5-foot-8 guard who is the team’s resident long-range scorer.
“He’s a very good shooter,” McGuire said. “We’re looking for him to hit some threes (3-point shots) for us. He can open things up for guys like Justin inside if he’s hitting his shots. He’s also getting better with his shot selection, which has been a help. But Nic can shoot the ball very well.”
Peter Lazaris is a 6-foot junior who can play either the shooting forward or strong forward positions.
“He’s like our jack-of-alltrades,” McGuire said. “He’s the hustle guy, the one who makes the plays that don’t get in the scorebook. He gets to loose balls and is all over the court. He also can score, which is a big help. We need him to rebound as well. He does a little bit of everything, things we need. He makes smart plays.”
Eddie Albuquerque is a 5-foot-10 junior guard who can also put the ball in the basket for the Golden Bears.
“He’s the best at going to the rim,” McGuire said. “He’s improved his shot a great deal and he’s working on his shot selection to become a better player.”
Kyle Logan is a 6-foot-2 sophomore who has shown a lot of promise in the preseason scrimmages.
“He’s going to be a backup to Justin (Smith) and Pete (Lazaris) upfront, but he’s going to be on the court a good amount of the time,” McGuire said. “He has a good mid-range game with his shot and he’s a very strong rebounder. He has a chance to become a very good player.”
Matthew Torres is a 5-foot- 10 senior who is a transfer from Becton Regional.
“He’s strong with the ball and is at his best when he’s going to the rim,” McGuire said. “He’s a smart player with great ability handling the ball. He’s going to see time at point guard.”
Sophomore Adrian Lopez is a 6-foot guard who also has point guard experience, giving the Golden Bears great depth at that position.
“He has to become more mature with the ball,” McGuire said. “He has to stop trying to make the highlight reel plays and just play smart. He has a lot of room for improvement, but he’s going to help us.”
The Golden Bears start the season Friday night against New Milford at home at 7 p.m. It’s a new era for a familiar face in McGuire.
“To be honest, I’m ecstatic about the start,” McGuire said. “A new opportunity is always exciting. We’re going to grab this opportunity and run with it. It’s not a change of culture as it’s a change of expectations.”
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”